Records safe today as thunderstorm chances increase

/ May 31, 2019 at 8:03 AM

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say this, but here goes:

The record high of 98°, set in 1953, is safe today.

Temperatures will only top out in the mid-90s before thunderstorms — yes, thunderstorms with actual rain — start to develop by mid-afternoon. A few of these thunderstorms may be on the strong side, though.

A few strong storms possible today

As upper-level energy ejects from the Ohio Valley toward the Carolinas, it will act to further suppress the ridge of high pressure that totally obliterated our record books this past week. To start, the suppression of the ridge and the seabreeze front will help focus the development of a few showers and thunderstorms starting sometime in the 1-3 PM timeframe. As a weakening front and better upper support approach the area later in the day, additional thunderstorms may fire and head our direction. The thunderstorm threat should clear the area by 10 PM. Not everyone will see a thunderstorm or measure rainfall today, and rainfall amounts likely will not exceed a quarter-inch where it does fall. So, unfortunately, no drought-busting here.

A couple of the strongest thunderstorms may produce damaging wind gusts. Be sure to listen for warnings, especially if you have outdoor plans today (U.S. Women’s Open, etc.). Any thunderstorm that develops will be capable of producing cloud-to-ground lightning, so regardless of whether a storm is classified as severe, it is still dangerous. Prevailing westerly flow aloft will drive these storms toward the coast, so there is a risk for lightning near and at the beaches. Remember: “When thunder roars, go indoors. When you see a flash, make a dash!”

Drought update

I wish I could say that these thunderstorms would bust our drought, but that just will not be the case. We remain firmly in moderate drought across the Lowcountry, with rainfall deficits approaching 9″ at the airport and well over 8″ downtown.

There are a few signs in the global model ensembles that we could move into a more active pattern in the second week of June; said pattern may bring more substantial rainfall to the area, but it is largely a wait-and-see game.

A mid-summer-like weekend

As we close May and head into June, it will still feel more like an above-normal late July and August with temperatures holding firmly in the low to mid-90s. Saturday should remain rain-free in the wake of the passing cold front, but temperatures will still rebound into the low 90s in the front’s wake. Isolated thunderstorms return to the forecast for Sunday as temperatures soar right back into the mid-90s. Fortunately, though, we will not break any records, which is more than we can say for this past week.

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